20 June 2017      

Good day, and welcome to the last day of spring!  It's not the first day of
summer everywhere, as it will already be the 21st in many places when
the summer solstice occurs at 12:24 a.m., EDT.  We hope that you're able
to end your spring on very positive notes and begin your summer even better!

Preparations for Peace in Your Life
Peace Pilgrim

The Meeting Place
Rachel Naomi Remen

One of These Days
tom walsh

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The path of awakening is not about becoming who you are.  Rather it is about unbecoming who you are not.

Leonard Jacobson

True religion is the life we live, not the creed we profess.

J.F. Wright

Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness.  It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.

Helen Keller

  

Preparations for Peace in Your Life
Peace Pilgrim

Now, when I talk about the steps toward inner peace, I talk about them in a framework, but there's nothing arbitrary about the number of steps.  They can be expanded; they can be contracted.  This is just a way of talking about the subject, but this is important:  the steps toward inner peace are not taken in any certain order.  The first step for one may be the last step for another.  So, just take whatever steps seem easiest for you, and as you take a few steps, it will become easier for you to take a few more.  In this area we really can share.  None of you may feel guided to walk a pilgrimage, and I'm not trying to inspire you to walk a pilgrimage, but in the field of finding harmony in our own lives, we can share.  And I suspect that when you hear me give some of the steps toward inner peace, you will recognize them as steps that you also have taken.

In the first place I would like to mention some preparations that were required of me.  The first preparation is a right attitude toward life.  This means--stop being an escapist! Stop being a surface-liver who stays right in the froth of the surface.  There are millions of these people, and they never find anything really worthwhile.  Be willing to face life squarely and get down beneath the surface of life where the verities and realities are to be found.  That's what we are doing here now.

There's the whole matter of having a meaningful attitude for the problems that life may set before you. 

If only you could see the whole picture, if only you knew the whole story, you would realize that no problem ever comes to you that does not have a purpose in your life, that cannot contribute to your inner growth.  When you perceive this, you will recognize problems as opportunities in disguise.  If you did not face problems you would just drift through life, and you would not gain inner growth.   It is through solving problems in accordance with the highest light that we have that inner growth is attained.  Now, collective problems must be solved by us collectively, and no one finds inner peace who avoids doing his or her share in the solving of collective problems, like world disarmament and world peace.  So let us always think about these problems together, talk about them together, and collectively work toward their solutions.

The second preparation has to do with bringing our lives into harmony with the laws that govern this universe.  Created are not only the worlds and the beings but also the laws which govern them.  Applying both in the physical realm and in the psychological realm, these laws govern human conduct.  Insofar as we are able to understand and bring our lives into harmony with these laws, our lives will be in harmony.  Insofar as we disobey these laws, we create difficulties for ourselves by our disobedience.  We are our own worst enemies.  If we are out of harmony through ignorance, we suffer somewhat; but if we know better and are still out of harmony, then we suffer a great deal.  I recognize that these laws are well-known and well-believed, and therefore they just needed to be well-lived.

So I got busy on a very interesting project.  This was to live all the good things I believed in.  I did not confuse myself by trying to take them all at once, but rather, if I was doing something that I knew I should not be doing, I stopped doing it, and I always made a quick relinquishment.  You see, that's the easy way.  Tapering off is long and hard.  And if I was not doing something that I knew I should be doing, I got busy on that.  It took the living quite a while to catch up with the believing, but of course it can, and now if I believe something, I live it.  Otherwise it would be perfectly meaningless.  As I lived according to the highest light that I had, I discovered that other light was given, and that I opened myself to receiving more light as I lived the light I had.

These laws are the same for all of us, and these are the things that we can study and talk about together.  But there is also a third preparation that has to do with something which is unique for every human life because every one of us has a special place in the Life Pattern.  If you do not yet know clearly where you fit, I suggest that you try seeking it in receptive silence.  I used to walk amid the beauties of nature, just receptive and silent, and wonderful insights would come to me.  You begin to do your part in the Life Pattern by doing all the good things you feel motivated toward, even though they are just little good things at first.  You give these priority in your life over all the superficial things that customarily clutter human lives.

There are those who know and do not do.  This is very sad.  I remember one day as I walked along the highway a very nice car stopped and the man said to me, "How wonderful that you are following your calling!"  I replied, "I certainly think that everyone should be doing what feels right to do."  He then began telling me what he felt motivated toward, and it was a good thing that needed doing.  I got quite enthusiastic about it and took for granted that he was doing it.  I said, "That's wonderful! How are you getting on with it?"  And he answered, "Oh, I'm not doing it.  That kind of work doesn't pay anything."  And I shall never forget how desperately unhappy that man was.  But you see, in this materialistic age we have such a false criterion by which to measure success.  We measure it in terms of dollars, in terms of material things.  But happiness and inner peace do not lie in that direction.  If you know but do not do, you are a very unhappy person indeed.

There is also a fourth preparation, and it is the simplification of life to bring inner and outer well-being--psychological and material well-being--into harmony in your life.  This was made very easy for me.  Just after I dedicated my life to service, I felt that I could no longer accept more than I needed while others in the world have less than they need.  This moved me to bring my life down to need-level.  I thought it would be difficult.  I thought it would entail a great many hardships, but I was quite wrong.  Now that I own only what I wear and what I carry in my pockets, I don't feel deprived of anything.  For me, what I want and what I need are exactly the same, and you couldn't give me anything I don't need.

I discovered this great truth:  unnecessary possessions are just unnecessary burdens.  Now I don't mean that all our needs are the same.  Yours may be much greater than mine.  For instance, if you have a family, you would need the stability of a family center for your children.  But I do mean that anything beyond need--and need sometimes includes things beyond the physical needs, too--anything beyond need tends to become burdensome.

There is a great freedom in simplicity of living, and after I began to feel this, I found a harmony in my life between inner and outer well-being.  Now there's a great deal to be said about such harmony, not only for an individual life but also for the life of a society.  It's because as a world we have gotten ourselves so far out of harmony, so way off on the material side, that when we discover something like nuclear energy, we are still capable of putting it into a bomb and using it to kill people.  This is because our inner well-being lags behind our outer well-being.  The valid research for the future is on the inner side, on the psychological side, so that we will be able to bring these two into balance, so we will know how to use well the outer well-being we already have.

   

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The Meeting Place
Rachel Naomi Remen

The places where we are genuinely met and heard have great importance to us.  Being in them may remind us of our strength and our value in ways that many other places we pass through do not.

My medical partner, who had never been ill a day in his life, died suddenly of a massive heart attack at fifty-six.  He was a consummate healer and a magnificent friend and he left both his colleagues and his patients bereft.  For weeks we numbly went through papers and made referrals for the many people who called in, many of them weeping.  Finally, the last details were attended to and we settled down to a future without Hal.

Then the patients started coming.  For almost a year afterwards, several times a week when I would open the door of my office and find one of Hal's patients sitting in the common waiting room.  At first I would worry that they didn't know about Hal and I would have to tell them, but they all knew.  They had just come to the place where they had experienced his listening, his special way of seeing and valuing them, just to sit there for a bit, perhaps to think about difficult decisions which currently faced them.  Many patients came.  It was terribly, terribly moving.  It made me angry with Hal for tending every life so impeccably except his own.

Another colleague, who is the head of the department of family medicine at one of the East Coast's outstanding medical schools, tells a story about one of his patients.  The patient was a homeless woman whose possessions fit into two shopping carts.  Once a month she would bring these up the steep hill to his clinic by lashing them alternately to the parking meters with a belt.  First she would tie one, then wheel the other to the next meter uphill, tie it, go back for the first one, untie it, and wheel it to the meter above the second until both she and the two carts were at the clinic's front door.  He saw her once a month on a Wednesday.  Her speech was sometimes rambling and her clothing was filthy and eccentric.  This deeply kind and respectful man was not troubled by this.  With his usual grave courtesy he welcomed her into his consulting room, listened to the details of her difficult life, and did what he could to ease her burden.

After he had been seeing her for some time, he became aware that she sometimes came to the hospital on days when he was not there.  The clinic nurses were puzzled by this at first, as she seemed to know in some mysterious way that it was not her day to see the doctor.  After talking with her, they determined that she simply wanted to go to his consulting room.  Once there she did not go in, but would stand on the threshold and slowly and deliberately place her right foot inside the empty room and then withdraw it again and again.  After a while she would be satisfied and go away again.

The places in which we are seen and heard are holy places.  They remind us of our value as human beings.  They give us the strength to go on.  Eventually they may even help us to transform our pain into wisdom.

  
  

"Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time," writes Rachel Naomi Remen in her introduction to Kitchen Table Wisdom. It is the way wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us live a life worth remembering." Remen, a physician, therapist, professor of medicine, and long-term survivor of chronic illness, is also a down-home storyteller. Reading this collection of real-life parables feels like a late-night kitchen session with a best friend, munching on leftovers while listening to the good-as-gossip stories of everyday heroes and archetype villains.

   

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Step into this moment, because it is the only one you have right now.  It is not
wasted or thrown away.  The divine opportunity could be stolen unless you tell
yourself it is here right now; available to you this moment, to make of it anything
you choose.  Why not choose this moment, right now, to be available to yourself
by declaring, I AM GOOD! . . . . The richness of the present is here.  The fullness
of now is present.  If you are not here now, it means you could be missing the
love, joy, peace  and brand-new ideas that are here right now.

Iyanla Vanzant

   

 
One of These Days

One of these days, she tells herself, she's going to quit the job where they treat her so badly and find one where they treat her well.  In the meantime, she's going to stick it out because she really needs the money.

One of these days, he says, he's going to take his wife on their dream trip.  They're going to spend three weeks visiting places that they both want to visit, probably in Europe, and they're going to relax and enjoy themselves and not worry about anything.

One of these days, they think, they're going to simplify their lives and live well within their means so that they don't have to worry so much about bills and payments, so that their stress levels go down and their enjoyment levels go up.

There are a lot of things that are going to happen one of these days.  Our country is going to switch over to clean, renewable energy one of these days.  Our world is going to live in peace one of these days.  Somehow, though, that particular day never seems to arrive.  We keep putting that day off because in order to reach that day, we need to make changes and take risks.  In order to achieve our dreams we may have to let go of something or some things that are holding us back and not allowing us to move on.
   

Do not sit still; start moving now.  In the beginning, you may not go
in the direction you want, but as long as you are moving,
you are creating alternatives and possibilities.

Rodolfo Costa

   
I really don't want to be a person who constantly says "One of these days" because that's that type of person who will look back years from now and say, "If only."  Talking about what we'll do or what will happen one of these days keeps us from taking action today, and it keeps us from making concrete plans to achieve our goals instead of just dreaming about them.

Once upon a time, my wife and I were talking about how nice it would be to take the kids on a vacation to Disneyworld.  We weren't in great financial shape at the time, as we had just gotten married and we were dealing with tons of financial problems from her first marriage.  But I told her that the only way we'd make it happen would be to actually commit ourselves to it, and that we should make the reservations.  So she did--we make the reservations for more than a year later, and we were committed to doing something rather than just dreaming about it.

In the interim time, some interesting things happened.  I was able to find a part-time job on weekends that allowed me to pay for pretty much the entire trip over the course of four months.  And while the idea of losing my weekends wasn't the most pleasant idea I could think of, it was a sacrifice that I was able and willing to make, as the trade-off was so high.  I also found a new job just about three weeks before the trip that improved our finances significantly.

It wasn't a luxury trip by any means.  It was a very long drive (about 20 hours), but we were willing to do that because we definitely couldn't have afforded five plane tickets.  Our room was kind of cramped, but that was okay for a family.  We didn't buy tons of souvenirs, but everyone did have a certain amount of money to buy what they wanted while we were there, and they could make their own choices.

And we ended up with a great trip that still provides us with plenty of fond memories.
    

Changes are not only possible and predictable, but to deny them
is to be an accomplice to one's own unnecessary vegetation.

Gail Sheehy

    
Sometimes we just have to commit ourselves to taking a risk and/or making a change that's important in our lives.  We don't want to keep on saying "One of these days" because that's going to guarantee us a different time frame:  never.

What would you really like to be doing with your life right now?  Are you in the job you'd really like to be doing?  If not, are you making preparations for moving into your dream job?  If not, why not?  Are you waiting for conditions to be perfect for you to do so?  If that's the case, I've got some bad news:  conditions rarely ever become perfect for anything to happen.  We've got to create the conditions in order for them to actually exist.

If you do want a job change that involves risk, then perhaps it's not the time to buy that new car and have that high payment hanging over your head when you're ready for the change.  If you want to live somewhere else, then it's probably a good idea to start a savings plan to give yourself a financial buffer when you make the move.  Even if you're confident that you'll find work in the new place, other things happen that are quite expensive, including finding a place to live, moving and storage expenses, waiting for the first paycheck, etc.

It's usually important that we prepare ourselves for big changes, though often we may be pushed into making changes that we weren't ready for.  If that happens, then "one of these days" may be tomorrow.  If a major life event provides a catalyst for starting something that you really wanted to start or for doing something that you really wanted to do, then there's a good chance that it's a good idea to ride the wave started by that event and make some wholesale changes at the same time.  It will lead to a pretty hectic period of time, but we as humans are pretty good at making our ways through adversity--and we learn some of our most important lessons when we do so. 
   

Any life truly lived is a risky business, and if one puts up
too many fences against the risks one ends by shutting
out life itself.

Kenneth S. Davis

   
"One of these days."  They're nice-sounding words, and often they're important.  The new parents are going to be limited in some of the things they can do over the next ten years or so.  The person who just started a career may need to wait a few years until he or she takes that long back-packing trip in Europe.  The phrase becomes dangerous to us when we use it to rationalize or justify non-action, when we use it to express a lack of hope for the present.  Some things must wait for their time; other things are completely up to us to change.  I'm very grateful that somewhere along the line I learned that it's much better to make a decision and start working to make it happen than it is to hope that my life situations become perfect for something that I really want to do.  If you want that special something to happen, then please don't wait for one of these days.  Identify it, define it, and start planning it.  That's what life is all about.

   
More on change.

   

One of the most important elements of living life fully is awareness-- awareness of our surroundings, of other people and their motives and fears and desires, of the things that affect us most in our lives, both positively and negatively. In the twelve years of livinglifefully.com's existence, this essay series has been a mainstay of the weekly e-zine--a series that has explored not just the things that exist and that happen around us, but also our reactions to those things. The first five years of the column are now available exclusively on Kindle.

   

  

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The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.  It is the source of all true art and science.  Those to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; their eyes are closed.

Albert Einstein

  
We use the word "love" but we have no more understanding of love than we do of anger or fear or jealousy or even joy, because we have seldom investigated what that state of mind is.  What are the feelings we so quickly label as love?  For many what is called love is not lovely at all but is a tangle of needs and desires, of momentary ecstasies and bewilderment.  Moments of unity, of intense feelings of closeness, occur in a mind so fragile that the least squint or sideways glance shatters its oneness into a dozen ghostly paranoias.

When we say love we usually mean some emotion, some deep feeling for an object or person, that momentarily allows us to open to another.  But in such emotional love, self-protection is never very far away.  Still there is "business" to the relationship:  clouds of jealousy, possessiveness, guilt, intentional and unintentional manipulation, separateness, and the shadow of all previous "loves" darkens the light of oneness.

But what I mean by love is not an emotion, it is a state of being.  True love has no object.  Many speak of their unconditional love for another.  Unconditional love is the experience of being; there is no "I" and "other," and anyone or anything it touches is experienced in love.  You cannot unconditionally love someone.  You can only be unconditional love.  It is not a dualistic emotion.  It is a sense of oneness with all that is.  The experience of love arises when we surrender our separateness into the universal.  It is a feeling of unity.  You don't love another, you are another.  There is no fear because there is no separation.

Stephen Levine
   

  

Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough.
Not only have I found that when I talk to the little flower
or to the little peanut they will give up their secrets,
but I have found that when I silently commune with people
they give up their secrets also--if you love them enough.

George Washington Carver

    

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